The Travel Wisconsin Interview with Michelle Bergner

XX min
Aug 30, 2023
Travel Wisconsin

We sat down with Michelle Bergner, Project Manager at Ascedia, to talk Travel Wisconsin.

Michelle is the lead account strategist working with Travel Wisconsin and today she covers why it's important to work closely with other agencies, the importance of a website to help drive business, and more. 



Michelle, why don’t we just start with you? Give us a bit of your background. How did you get into advertising and how long have you been with Ascedia?

Sure, I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and have been with Ascedia for 11 of those years. After joining the Ascedia team, my first project was working with the tourism team on redesigning the website. Over the years I’ve taken on other client work, but as of late, I was given the opportunity to be the lead account strategist for Wisconsin Tourism. It’s fun to be working on something that I started with so many years ago, but now in a completely different way.


Talk about our history with this client and what we as an agency do for Travel Wisconsin.

Ascedia and Travel Wisconsin have been working together for many years. Our partnership began in 2001 and in 2010 we became their agency of record. Redesigning was the first large initiative at that time. The new site launched in 2013 and has been going strong ever since.

Throughout our relationship, we’ve provided continuous improvements to the website, such as a homepage redesign, feature enhancements, new seasonal reports, just to name a few, along with regular website maintenance. Digital strategy and search engine optimization efforts are also items the Ascedia team assists Travel Wisconsin with.

For a short period of time, we no longer handled managing all day-to-day services for Travel Wisconsin. However, in March 2022 the engagement picked back up and since then we’ve been back in the position of being their digital agency of record.


Michelle, how does Travel Wisconsin view the website? I mean they have so many other marketing channels, right? Where does the website fit in?

It’s a very valuable channel and a big part as to why they continue to work with Ascedia. They understand its importance — a strong site helps drive travel and tourism in Wisconsin.

As for how the site fits in with other channels, we’re way more integrated than ever before. Campaigns other agencies are launching coincide with things that we’re doing so there’s a seamless connection. And this connection is paying off.

Engagement on the site has been good. July of 2019 was the highest month on record for traffic to the site. This July we surpassed that.

In 2019 we had 1.3 million sessions. This year we surpassed it with 1.5 million. So that speaks to the work we have been doing, the work the other agencies have been doing, and the work Travel Wisconsin has been doing to bring all these resources together.

So, yeah, they spend a lot of time thinking and investing in their website.


Earlier you mentioned strategy as some of the strategic work we do for Travel Wisconsin. Can you talk a bit more about that?

Taking that step back and starting a project from a more strategic approach is something we like to do when time allows. Let me give you a recent example: golf.

Travel Wisconsin came to us with the task of enhancing the golf section of the website. Wisconsin continuously makes the Golf Digest list of top 100 courses providing us with a great opportunity to expand our current content offerings.

Initial discussions were around updating the current landing page to better showcase golf in Wisconsin. We felt that was a start…but there was even more we could do to make this section stand out.

Our work began with a mini-strategic plan exercise. This included developing a golf persona. Competitive research. And research on key features found on other golf websites that could be helpful for our customers.

After our initial strategy work was completed, further collaboration with Travel Wisconsin’s advertising agency took place. We engaged their team to assist with strategic direction around content (both written and visual) to further enhance our teams’ recommendations.

By first taking a more strategic approach and partnering with the agency from the onset of the project, we believe we will be able to improve this section of the website and drive more golf business to the state.


Michelle, talk a bit about working with other agencies. It’s not always easy…especially on a big account like Travel Wisconsin. How have you and the team been able to make it work so well?
I think both agencies are open and receptive to it. And the client is pushing this connection as well. They have said, “We want you to work together to help get things done.” This connection, not only with other agency partners but also with the Travel Wisconsin team, has helped us to provide better results.

To do this, we have more frequent status meetings where we’re now communicating with each other on what both teams are working on. Even if it’s just small projects, we work to keep everyone up to speed on what’s going on.

Sure, from time to time we hit bumps in the road, it’s a new process and way to work, but the more we go through it the stronger the relationship on both sides will be, and then the better Travel Wisconsin will be in the long run.


Talk to us about some future work on the site. What new enhancements are coming within the next few months to a year?

Sure, I can touch on some of that. Launching in the next few weeks is an exciting new video series that will be featured on Various destinations throughout the state will be highlighted in a series of episodic short and long-form videos. Keep an eye on the website to see how this all comes to life, and what new destinations are featured each season.

Another project underway right now is creatively refreshing a few key pages and sections of the website. This work will help set the stage for a larger, sitewide, refresh project taking place later this year.


Share with the reader your role on the account. Describe the different tasks that you do on an ongoing basis with the client.

I’m the account strategist for Travel Wisconsin, and their main point of contact for everything. Part of my role is to manage all day-to-day activities and requests that come through from the client as well as pay close attention to project budgets and timelines. General site maintenance and larger feature enhancement work also comes through me. From there, I work with the appropriate team members to plan, resource, and develop the various projects that come our way.

Additionally, I help oversee the digital marketing efforts our team is responsible for. We manage a variety of search engine optimization efforts along with monthly and quarterly (seasonal) reporting.

So, there’s a lot! But they trust us. And they really do look to us as partners, and value our feedback and recommendations.

Many times, the client will meet internally and then come to us and say, “Hey, we have this idea. Can you help us bring it to life.”


Thanks, Michelle, what else should I know about this account?

You know, I started with Travel Wisconsin, even when I first got my job at Boelter + Lincoln, a local Milwaukee advertising agency.

The first account I worked on, 20-plus years ago was Travel Wisconsin, but in a public relations and promotions capacity. So, I’ve truly been working with tourism to some degree for my entire career, which has been fun for me.

They have a lot of good ideas, and it’s fun to watch those ideas come to life. What might just be something that was thrown out on a whiteboard at some point, months ago, becomes something real. That’s always exciting. And that’s what makes it a special account.